What to Know
- NYPD officer Richard Haste has been undergoing departmental trial in the shooting death of Ramarley Graham
- Graham was an unarmed black man shot and killed in front of family members in 2012
- The punishment against Haste probably won't be known for several weeks, if at all
The family of the unarmed black man shot to death in his own bathroom by an NYPD officer in 2012 alleges police are covering up the facts in the case.
Ramarley Graham's mother and other relatives spoke to media in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, a day after the disciplinary trial of NYPD officer Richard Haste came to a close. They argued video evidence contradicts testimony given by responding cops in Haste's trial, and called for their firings.
Constance Malcolm, Graham's mother, said she wanted to set the record straight about her son: he's not a monster, he wasn't selling drugs, he didn't have a gun and he never ran from police, she claimed.
"Life was cut short all because somebody was too hasty, broken protocol and thinking they were above the law," said Malcolm." It wasn't just Richard Haste, they all played a part in my son's death."
She said her 6-year-old son witnessed his brother getting shot.
The family presented extended video clips, some of which had already been viewed in court, they said illustrated their point. Some footage showed Graham, then 18, being carried outside on a gurney after he was shot, a blanket covering his face. Other videos showed the reaction of NYPD officers to the initial scene; Graham's family says they didn't appear frightened and weren't ducking for cover, which they say delegitimizes officers' claims, including Haste's, that Graham was shot to death out of fear for NYPD lives.
Graham's family said Tuesday they want Haste and 11 other officers fired.
"They all play a part. They all play a part in my son's death and they all should be fired," said Malcolm.
Haste's attorney, Stuart London, acknowledged the case was a tragedy and said his client understands that.
"The issue of justification is a separate one," London said. "The video was never a crucial part of this case. It was un-contradicted at trial that Ramarley Graham possessed a weapon and never acquiesced to officer Haste's commands to 'Show me your hands, show me your hands.'"
The NYPD has consistently denied any suggestion of a cover-up. A representative couldn't immediately be reached following Tuesday's briefing.
Haste, who had been investigating a drug case on the day Graham died, testified he followed the young man into his Bronx apartment building on suspicion that he may have had a gun. After Haste and his partner broke down the door of Graham's home, the officer said he saw Graham sidestep into a bathroom, and he leaned inside to face him.
Haste, who is white, testified that he yelled, "Show me your hands!" but Graham instead reached deeper into his pants and yelled obscenities.
"I thought I was about to be shot," Haste said. "I expected to be dead.
Haste initially faced a criminal manslaughter charge in the death, which became another flashpoint for outrage over police use of deadly force against minorities. But the criminal case was dismissed because of a procedural error, and a new grand jury declined to indict. Federal prosecutors also declined to bring charges.
NYPD lawyers have sought to get Haste fired, saying he botched department tactics requiring him to take cover and call for backup. The officer's attorneys say he had good reason to think Graham was drawing a gun when he fired.
No weapon was recovered.
Haste's trial wrapped up Monday, but word of any punishment likely won't come for several weeks. The judge will submit a written recommendation about whether the officer can remain on the force - all subject to final approval, reversal or change by the police commissioner.
It's likely the NYPD would confirm if Haste is ultimately fired. But lesser punishments resulting from such proceedings - whether an officer is reprimanded, docked pay or put on probation - and the reasoning behind any decisions are not disclosed.